Musical duo Ranjani and Gayatri celebrate Ilaiyaraaja's Carnatic connection

The duo will be interpreting the compositions of legendary musician Ilaiyaraaja in a classical format, in his presence, as part of his birthday celebrations.

Published: 04th June 2022 02:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th June 2022 02:45 AM   |  A+A-

Musical duo Ranjani and Gayatri

Musical duo Ranjani and Gayatri (Photo| EPS)

Express News Service

Classical vocalist and violinist duo Ranjani and Gayatri have always believed that when presented right, Carnatic kutcheri can be the most powerfully communicative idiom that has something in it for everyone - from the musically uninitiated to the cognoscenti. As a testimony to their approach, the sisters will be presenting one such kutcheri in Chennai this weekend.

The duo will be interpreting the compositions of legendary musician Ilaiyaraaja in a classical format, in his presence, as part of his birthday celebrations. In a freewheeling chat, the sisters speak of the huge responsibility, and the novelty they hope to bring to this concert. Excerpts: 

How did the collaboration for Raaja by RaGa concert happen?

Gayatri: We first met Raaja sir when he invited us to sing a devotional-classical song Maayone for a film. It was truly an inspirational meeting for us, and we had this precious opportunity of seeing him up close, talking and sharing, and absorbing his thoughts on music. Since then, we have had a few memorable discussions, and we were struck by his free-spirited approach to life, music, the utter kindness and generosity.

Ranjani: During one of our conversations, we talked about the possibility of exploring his compositions from the perspective of classical music and the prospect excited us all. We feel that Raaja sir’s music has been a powerful bridge between the musically uninitiated and the world of raga music.  

How did you go about zeroing in on the compositions for the concert?

Gayatri: This concert is for music lovers from all walks of life and backgrounds. If they have connected with Raaja sir’s music, this concert will resonate with them. And yes, there has been a huge wave of interest and buzz around this concert from the public, with many expressing their requests for this song or the other!

Ranjani: This concert will include pieces from the Carnatic music repertoire (with a twist), in addition to many of the maestro's compositions. What is unique about this is the way his music is going to be presented and interpreted in the Carnatic format, without compromising on the depth and intellectual value of our classical idiom.

Could you take us behind the creative process of working with the maestro during rehearsals?

Gayatri: It was a tremendously refreshing experience to ideate and think out of the box, while we planned the concert. We asked Raaja sir for his suggestions, and his inputs are also part of this concert. Raaja sir has given us full freedom to present his songs in our trademark Carnatic style, and we are indeed humbled by his faith in us.

Ranjani: Many of the maestro's compositions are purely raga-based and often present fresh vistas of the raga. His incredible ability to take any raga, orchestrate and present it in a way that perfectly suits the situation of the movie, to convey myriad emotions - these are a few of the aspects that leave us awe-struck. One concert or even several cannot come close to exploring this genius' range of music.

What makes the Chennai audience special?

Ranjani: I would pick Bengaluru as equally special. Chennai has always placed classical music on a pedestal, and it is a place that gives the student, rasika, and seeker of this great art form infinite opportunities to listen, learn, sing and grow.

What are some of your upcoming projects?

Gayatri: We are doing a Season 2 of RaGa Masterclass for advanced students which was oversubscribed last year. This was also our first tryst with virtual teaching and has received an overwhelming response from students worldwide. Also, we will be bringing out devotional singles which will be released on YouTube and other major platforms.

Ranjani: In addition to live concerts, we will also be bringing out a fresh edition of RaGa Candid on Eppo Music once a month starting July. 

Raaja by RaGa 

Celebrating the classical glory concert will be held on June 5 at the Madras Music Academy from 6.30 pm. For tickets, visit:


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